April 24, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Dolphins' draft, LeBron, Fish, Canes, Hernandez, Heat, Messi, Serena; plus our Jose statue column, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, April 24. Welcome to NFL Draft Week! 2) Did you mark national Record Store Day by visiting your local indie shop on Saturday and buying a couple of LPs? Guess what: Those stores are open year-round! 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them joy. Get each of them our new book on club's first half-century? Check out Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins not ruling out offense for first draft pick, Fins' 2017 schedule with notes, Canes-Noles, on Aaron Hernandez, your verdicts on Jose statue and Sherman trade & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column: On Jose Fernandez statue controversy: Many are against the Marlins building a statue to honor Fernandez since toxicology reports indicated he was negligent and impaired in the boat crash that killed himself and two others. I too am uneasy over the idea. And, yet, I see the potential for a greater good because the statue will be a constant reminder not only of his life, but how it ended. Click on The Jose Statue's Positive Purpose to read.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS/NFL DRAFT: Finally, it's Draft Week in Miami!: Newly released league schedule finds Miami back on the NFL map with four prime-time games (amazing what ending your playoff drought can do), but bigger news is this week's NFL Draft Thursday through Saturday. The most likely result for the Fins' No. 1 pick? That, no matter who it is, most Dolfans were sort of hoping for the other guy instead.

2. NBA: LeBron leads first-round sweep: The NBA playoffs' first round dragged on moved along with four more games Sunday and one team, Cleveland, became the first to advance with a sweep of Indiana. The Cavaliers had overcome a 26-point deficit in Game 3, and LeBron James averaged nearly a triple-double in the series. Selfishly, his excellence is making it very difficult on his haters. Damn you, LeBron!

3. MARLINS: Fish win second straight in nine-game road swing: Marlins are six games (3-3) into season's second longest road trip and fighting to hang with the Nationals in the NL East race as they head to Philadelphia. The goal: To still be a playoff contender when hosting All-Star Game later this summer. And dare say beyond?

4. HURRICANES: Football, baseball share campus spotlight: UM's football spring practice wrapped up for Mark Richt with Saturday's scrimmage (still with no clear starter at quarterback), while Jim Morris' baseball Canes -– trying to save their season -– split two games in home series with rival Florida State before Sunday's finale was rained out.

5. AARON HERNANDEZ: Ex-football star kills self: More cheers than tears met the news the ex-Patriot and convicted murderer hanged himself in prison. But does that say more about him or us? A tragedy, a shame, a waste. Everybody lost. Man, I'm starting to depress myself.

6. HEAT: Exit meetings wrap up the strangest of seasons: Pat Riley said he'd like to work this offseason to keep this Heat team together. Hopefully he meant team that went 30-11 in the season's second half, and not the one that was 11-30 at the turn.

7. NHL: Playoffs' first round is complete: Ottawa and Washington winning Sunday completed the first round in the long hunt for the Stanley Cup, with eight teams advancing to the second round starting Wednesday. Ottawa made it two Canadian teams still alive as that country girds for not winning the Cup yet again.

8. SOCCER: El Clasico renews sport's best rivalry: Arsenal beat Manchester City and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but the bigger match in some ways Sunday was Barcelona riding the brilliance of Lionel Messi for a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in a renewal of soccer's greatest club rivalry. Teams play in Miami this July 29 and already you can't buy a ticket without taking out a second mortgage.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis star pregnant with first child: Serena, engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, revealed she is 20 weeks pregnant and will take several months off from tennis. "Thank God!" said the other women who can never beat her.

10. NASCAR: Bristol hosts washed out Sunday race: Bleak weather conditioned postpone it til Monday. Sorry, gearheads. 

Missing the HB10 cut: Headline on ESPN.com today: 'FAU wraps up successful spring, Kiffin says.' And you wondered why Lane Kiffin was a great hire? Because ESPN is paying attention to FAU Owls spring practice ..... Saturday was Record Store Day. Colleague David J. Neal: "What's next, Rotary Phone Day?" ..... Sailing's 35th America's Cup begins in one month. It's a wind-wind situation. Sorry. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 4-24-17: Up to five events on today's sports calendar that interest SoFla most:

1. NBA playoffs, 7 p.m.: One 1st-round Game 5 and two 4s, with Golden State in position to advance.

2. NASCAR race, 1 p.m.: Sunday's rained-out race in Bristol, Tenn., postponed 'til today.

Select other recent columns: Everyone's Shouting Defense, But..., on Dolphins and first round. An American Tragedy , on suicide of Aaron Hernandez. History Breathes at UM Sports Hall, a tour of a little-known campus gem. Spo's Greatest Challenge -- And Triumph, on this strangest of Heat seasons. Time to Make It About Baseball, Winning, on Marlins Opening Night. Jeter Everything Loria Isn't , on Marlins' potential ownership change. Mourning And Celebration, Marlins season preview. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty City and Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 04, 2017

Playoffs? Bust? Set bar on Marlins expectations. Poll. Last day to vote!; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Fish, UNC, Heat, Always Dreaming, Federer, Dion Jordan; also, Radio Tuesday, Florida Derby/Marlins columns, Hot Button Daily (Tue) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, April 4. Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Saturday with Final Four/Florida Derby/Miami Open, The List I-II, your NBA MVP verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 8:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and with the national show airing on ESPNU/ESPN2.

Florida Derby, Marlins preview columns: It was a double Sunday dose o' me as I weighed in with a column from Saturday's Florida Derby as well as a Marlins season preview column. Click on Always Dreaming for my Derbyizing on the winning horse and its owner, Vinnie Viola, the Florida Panthers owner. Click on Mourning And Celebration for my preview column on a Marlins season unlike any other.

My final bracket update: I finished 5th among some 90 entries in the LeBatard & Friends pool -- not bad -- topped by correctly having North Carolina as my national champion. 

Marlins odMARLINS OPENING DAY POLL: Yesterday began the Marlins' 25th season, and we're gauging how optimistic (or not) South Florida is about the team. Remove the rose-colored glasses and vote what you honestly expect will happen, please, not what you hope will. We ran this exact same poll in the blog in mid-February as spring training unfurled, so we'll be interested to compare results to detect any shifts. Ready? Play ball! Vote now...

THE LIST: MARLINS OPENING DAY STARTERS: Edinson Volquez became the 15th different Marlins Opening Day starting pitcher in the club's 25-year history. The eight pitchers with multiple Opening Day starts for the Fish:

Josh Beckett                  3    2003-05

Josh Johnson                  3    2010-12

Charlie Hough                2    1993-94 

Kevin Brown                   2    1996-97

Alex Fernandez              2    1999-00

Ryan Dempster               2    2001-02 

Dontrelle Willis              2    2006-07

Ricky Nolasco                 2    2009, '13

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Play ball! Fish open 25th season on road today: MLB Opening Day was Sunday with three games, but Miami plays six straight away starting with Monday's loss at Washington before finally opening at home April 11. This could be the year unpopular owner Jeffrey Loria finally sells the team. Which pretty much already makes it a successful season!

2. NCAA TOURNAMENT: Finally! It's North Carolina: There were 351 teams, from which 68 made the men's NCAA Tournament. Then it was down to 32, then 16 to eight to four to two and now ... the final one. It was North Carolina for the national title last night in the long-awaited crescendo to March (into April) Madness.

3. HEAT: Playoff fight intensifies as Miami winds down season: Heat is down to five games left as it angles for a first-round playoff series vs. Boston or Cleveland. Miami's long climb back staggered with a Sunday home loss to Denver that left Heat hanging onto 8th and last playoff seed. Oy!

4. HORSE RACING: Always Dreaming wins 66th Florida Derby: Gunnevera was the betting favorite Saturday but the Florida Derby belonged to Always Dreaming, owned by Florida Panthers  owner Vinnie Viola. It was nice to see horse racing the star at Gulfstream again for at least a day, not the casino, poker, restaurants etc. Also nice to see that Viola's four-legged athlete runs better than his two-legged guys skate.

5. TENNIS: Federer beats Nadal in Miami Open men's final: Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki wasn't exactly a dream women's final for the Miami Open on Saturday, but Sunday delivered just that on the men's side with Roger Federer beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in a heavyweight men's title match.

6. GOLF: The Masters arrives, but Tiger-less once more: Season's first golf major unfurls Thursday at Augusta as an absent Tiger Woods, still beset by back issues, continues one of the most epic slow fades in the history of sports.

7. DOLPHINS: Fins release all-time bust Dion Jordan: The quintessential NFL all-time draft bust might still be Ryan Leaf. But in the Miami division, Dion Jordan's dubious crown was affirmed this week as the Dolphins finally cut the guy they traded up for and never stopped regretting it. 

8. NCAA WOMEN: South Carolina reigns after UConn upset loss stuns women's Final Four: South Carolina beat Mississippi State in the finale Sunday night. But, no matter, dynastic UConn losing in Final Four, after 111 consecutive wins, already made it a refreshing victory for women's college basketball. 

9. PANTHERS: Cats eliminated from playoff chase as disappointing season ebbs: Florida is down to three games left after Monday home loss to Montreal, a going-through-the-motions phase to end a huge letdown of a season. Um how'd that coaching change work out, by the way? Boneheaded. 

10. PRO WRESTLING: Orlando hosts WrestleMania 33: Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton had big wins and The Undertaker lost in his final WWE match to highlight WrestleMania 33. Imagine. Sports' biggest cartoon event in a city that worships Mickey Mouse. Perfect. So right.

Missing the HB10 cut: NFL owners voted 31-1 to OK Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas, with Dolphins' Stephen Ross the lone dissenter. Ross has since been so heroically lauded in the media you'd think he'd rescued three nuns from a burning car ..... Hurricanes football held its annual Pro Day for NFL teams to analyze 15 UM players as the draft nears. Only one, TE David Njoku, figures as a first-rounder. And I'll say it again: Ya shoulda stayed, Brad Kaaya ..... When was the last time UM baseball entered April with a losing record? Holy Brad Kelly!

HOT BUTTON DAILY / TUE 4-4-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. FIU at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.: FIU baseball tops the marquee? Huh!?

2. Yes. Yes it is. It is the single slowest day of the entire sports year.

Select other recent columns: The Long Chase, on Dolphins' struggle to close gap on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed QB. Method to the Madness?, on bizarre LaVar Ball. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on latest in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. Also: A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, The Miracle of Liberty CityIs Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?Loria: The End Of An Error, Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 01, 2017

Declared! It's another Super Saturday in South Florida sports as Final Four, Florida Derby, Miami Open lead parade; plus Hot Button Daily (Sat), The List (I and II), your verdict on NBA MVP & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Aprilfool1) It is SATURDAY, April 1. Happy new month, all! Mind The Who's advice today and don't get fooled (again). 2) Jo Konta beats Caroline Wozniacki today in Miami Open women's final. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (75 games), Dolphins' struggle to close gap with Pats, NBA MVP poll, Marlins in fantasy drafts, your verdict on Kaepernick & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

"UConn's shocking upset loss in NCAA Final Four is the best thing that could have happened to women's basketball." --Greg Cote

SupersatDECLARED! IT'S ANOTHER SUPER SATURDAY IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS!: We don't officially declare a Super Saturday (or Sunday) often. Maybe a few times a Ncaaff Fladerby Miaopenyear? But today qualifies. If you are a Miami sports fan and you can't find something to love today, check your pulse. You may be dead. There's the Final Four of the men's NCAA Tournament, of course, with Miami-native coach Frank Martin leading underdog South Carolina vs. Gonzaga and then Oregon facing North Carolina. There is the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream, and let's see if Gunnevera is all that in a major prep event for thoroughbred racing's coming Triple Crown season. There is the women's final at the Miami Open, and fast-rising Jo Konta beating Caroline Wozniacki for her first title on Key Biscayne was an interesting finish even though we'd have preferred Venus Williams make it. Also, the Panthers play at Boston, the Marlins host Detroit in Jupiter to wrap up spring training, and Hurricanes baseball continues its ACC home series vs. Wake Forest.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / SAT 4-1-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Final Four, 6 p.m.: South Carolina-Gonzaga, Oregon-North Carolina in men's FF from Phoenix.

2. Florida Derby, 6:40 p.m.: Gunnevera betting fave in 66th running of major Kentucky Derby prep race.

3. Miami Open, 1 p.m.: It's Caroline Wozniacki vs. little-known Jo Konta for women's championship.

4. Detroit vs. Marlins, noon: Fish's final spring-training game in Jupiter.

5. Panthers at Boston, 1: Playoff-eliminated Cats playing out the string.
 
THE LIST I: FLORIDA SCHOOLS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: History of the 13 Division 1 schools from state of Florida in men's NCAA Tournament, ranked by number of appearances:
School                            Apps.   Most recent   Best finish
Florida                              20      2017                Champion in 2006, '07
Florida State                    15      2017                Runner-up in 1972
Miami                                9       2017                Sweet 16 in 2000, '13, '16
Jacksonville                     5       1986                Runner-up in 1970    
UCF                                     4       2005                1st round
Florida Gulf Coast            3       2017                Sweet 16 in 2013
South Florida                    3       2012                2nd round in 2012
Florida A&M                      3       2007                1st round
North Florida                    1       2015                1st round
Florida Atlantic                1       2002                1st round
Florida International       1      1995                 1st round
Bethune-Cookman          0       ---                    ---
Stetson                               0       ---                    ---   
 
THE LIST II: FLORIDA DERBY RUNNERS WHO WON KENTUCKY DERBY: Twenty-three horses who have competed in the Florida Derby went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Here are the five most recent, all of whom won at Gulfstream before doing the same at Churchill Downs:
Year    FL/KY Derby-winning horse
2016    Nyquist
2013    Orb
2008    Big Brown
2006    Barbaro
2001    Monarchos
 
Poll result: It's Westbrook (easily) for NBA MVP: We asked who would get your vote to this point for NBA MVP from among six leading contenders, and it was Thunder's Russell Westbrook a runaway winner with 53.0 percent, with Rockets' James Harden a distant second at 20.1%. Then it was Spurs' Kawhi Leonard with 11.0%, Cavs' LeBron James at 10.4%, Celtics' Isaiah Thomas at 3.7% and Warriors' Steph Curry at 1.8%. (Warriors' Kevin Durant got skunked; no votes).
 
Select recent columns: The Long Chase, the latest, on Dolphins' struggle to make up ground on Patriots. Missing Waiters, on Dion Waiters' value to Heat. Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick?, on a curiously unemployed quarterback. Method to the Madness?, on the bizarre LaVarBall. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing the tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, on World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 27, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring NCAA Final Four, Heat stretch run, tennis, Fish, Cats, horses; plus Kaepernick vs. Moore as Dolphins backup QB. Poll. Vote now!; also Elton John, Venus Williams, my bracket, Hot Button Daily (Mon) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Eltonthen Eltonnow1) It is MONDAY, March 27. A most happy 70th birthday Saturday to a lifelong favorite of mine, Elton John, pictured then and now. I have been a huge fan since the '70s, augmenting my love of his music with an admiration for his many philanthropic works that set the standard for the music industry. The word is grossly overused in entertainment but it fits this man: Superstar. So happy his milestone birthday found him in a great place and the happiest he has ever been. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Kiper's surprise Mock pick for Dolphins, Team USA wins WBC crown, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games), Sweet 16 title odds & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Sunday column: The curious unemployment of Colin Kaepernick: I explore what could be the NFL blackballing of Colin Kaepernick in my latest Sunday column. Click on Is There A Team Brave Enough for Kaepernick? to read. Kaepernick threw 16 TDs vs. only four interceptions, topped a 90 rating and was second among NFL QBs in rushing yards last season. He'd make somebody an exciting backup option for the right price -- Dolphins included. Agree. Find a Kaepernick vs. Matt Moore poll here directly below the new Hot Button Top 10.

Bracket update: I stand tied for 14th among 90 teams in a LeBatard & Friends pool after Sunday's results set the Final Four. I have North Carolina (my national champ) and Oregon both still alive in my FF. Two out of four; not bad. ESPN says only 657 of 18,797,085 brackets correctly predicted all four Final Four teams. That is 0.00003495 percent.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NCAA ELITE EIGHT: Finally! The Final Four is set: It'll be 1-seed Gonzaga vs. 7-South Carolina and 1-North Carolina vs 3-Oregon in next week's Final Four semifinal games of the NCAA men's tourney as March Madness nears its crescendo. Are you still alive in your office pool? Or was that your bracket I saw smoldering in tatters on the side of the road this morning?

2. HEAT: Miami prepares for Pistons as stretch run continues: Loss in Boston Sunday didn't help, but nine games left starting with a huge one Tuesday in Detroit could find Heat rising as high as the fifth playoff seed or missing postseason altogether. Who says NBA regular seasons don't matter?

3. TENNIS: Miami Open reaches midpoint on Key Biscayne: Not as much interest on women's side in a field missing injured Serena Williams, but we'll gladly take a Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer men's final next Sunday (please) as the annual fortnight ends at Crandon Park Tennis Center. Meanwhile Hard Rock Stadium is trying to poach the event from Key Biscayne, which at least beats it leaving altogether. 

4. MARLINS: WBC stars rejoin team as spring winds down: Team USA's Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich rejoined Marlins from World Baseball Classic for final week of spring training. WBC champions to NL East also-rans. Hope Stanton and Yelich didn't get too used to all that winning.

5. PANTHERS: Cats win big but still need miracle on ice: Florida is down to seven games and still seven points off playoff pace even after Saturday's big 7-0 home win over Chicago. As a disappointing season ebbs do you remember how a big offseason had the Cats talking Stanley Cup? Yeah they'd probably rather that you'd forgotten.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream hosts Florida Derby in five days: Gunnavera will try to solidify his status as a Kentucky Derby favorite in next Saturday's major prep race, the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream. Always nice to see horses take back center stage at a horse track these days, albeit briefly.  

7. NCAA WOMEN: Monday completes Final Four matchups: Stanford and Mississippi State are in. Today, Oregon-UConn and Florida State-South Carolina winners will join them in women's Final Four.

8. NFL/DOLPHINS: Looks like free agency came and went quietly: Um, is that all there is? Dolphins didn't make a big splash, and biggest questions that remain nationally involve the possible landing spots for QBs Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Garoppolo. But the draft is getting close!

9. TIGER WOODS: Eldrick still hoping to be ready for The Masters: Year's first major is April 6-9 at Augusta, and Tiger Woods -- his long-awaited comeback from back ailmenbst forever delayed or aborted -- says he wants in. Do we believe him? Do we still care?

10. CANES BASEBALL: UM avoid sweep, at least: Once-ranked Miami now 11-13 after avoiding a sweep by winning Sunday at No. 8 North Carolina. The season he dreamed of is a nightmare thus far for Jim Morris.

Missing the HB10 cut: Sorry, UM football. You don't have the courtesy to open your spring practices to the public, you don't get in the HB10 ..... The Lakers unveiled a 1,200-pound dunking statue of Shaquille O'Neal. So it's about life-sized, then ..... OK UCLA finally lost. Can we all stop interviewing LaVar Ball now please? ..... U.S. men's soccer crushed Honduras, 6-0, reminding us that Jurgen Klinsmann really did need to go ..... Ultra Music Festival ends today in Miami, the only event at which drugs not only are allowed, but are required.

POLL: COLIN KAEPERNICK VS. MATT MOORE AS DOLPHINS BACKUP QB?: Relax, people. It's just for fun...

VenuswTHE UNDERAPPRECIATED WONDER OF VENUS WILLIAMS: [Update: Venus won her opening match in the Miami Open, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4-,6-3, and plays again today] Original post: As Serena Williams skips this Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne with a knee injury, we take the occasion to give the credit that is due to the overshadowed, underappreciated career of older sister Venus Williams. Serena said recently of Venus: "There’s no way I’d be at 23 [Grand Slam titles] without her. There’s no way I’d be at one without her. There’s no way I’d be anything without her. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist." Serena says her drive to be better than her big sister is what drove her to greatness. But imagine all of the additional major title Venus might have won if her greatest rival hadn't been her own sister? Click on An Ode to the 'Other' for my column in tribute to Venus.

THE LIST: TOP 5 GREATEST VENUSES OF ALL-TIME: Our own order:

1. Venus (second planet from the sun)

2. Venus Williams (tennis player)

3. Venus de Milo (ancient Greek statue)

4. Venus Flytrap (carnivorous plant)

5. Venus (surprising humane 2006 Peter O'Toole film about aging)

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-27-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:
 
1. NCAA women, 7 p.m.: Oregon-UConn, then FSU-South Carolina compete to get into Final Four.

2. Miami Open, 11 am.: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Venus Williams among stars in play today.

3. Panthers at Buffalo, 7 p.m.: Cats still alive, but barely, in playoff chase.

4. Marlins vs.N.Y. Mets, 1:05 p.m.: Fish in Jupiter as spring training winds down.

"WHERE TO NOW, ST. PETER?," ELTON JOHN, 1970: Tumbleweed Connection was the first Elton John album that really struck me, with its influences in country and Americana but also rock and even psychedelia. I had no idea then that the music of this man would become a lifelong friend...

Select other recent columns: Method to the Madness?, on the bizarre LaVarBall. Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, previewing the tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 23, 2017

Kiper lights Lamp for Dolphins in latest Mock Draft; plus "Let's gooooo States!" Team USA reigns, Yelich honored; also, Miami Open tennis, weird Lavar Ball, Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, Sweet 16 title odds, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, March 23. Thank you again, Cote's Coterie, for carrying me to the Final Four, and congratulations Amber Wilson, for winning the Slice Miami media bracket title! 2) Hurricanes men lose NCAA opener to Michigan State, then Canes women drop home game in second-round upset loss to Quinnipiac. What a hugely disappointing March Madness run (more like a stumble) for UM hoops. 3) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your Jose Fernandez verdict shows shaky support, R.I.P. Chuck Berry, Cote makes final four, my bracket update & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Latest columns: Miami Open tennis, weird LaVar Ball: The event is missing major stars due to injuries like Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray as it begins on Key Biscayne, yet hope grows as the folks who run the tournament dig in determined to keep the event at Crandon Park Tennis Center long-term despite legal setbacks. Click on Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten for this week's column. Then click Method to the Madness? for my latest column, exploring the bizarre attention-getting braggadocio of LaVar Ball, father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball.

LampKIPER'S MOCK DRAFT 3.0 OFFERS DOLPHINS SURPRISE: Mel Kiper Jr. rolls out his Mock Draft 3.0 for ESPN today and it has the Dolphins taking Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp 22nd overall. Junior writes: "Laremy Tunsil's expected move to left tackle leaves an opening at guard, and Lamp is the best guard in the draft. He could also move over to right tackle or slide in to center, and his versatility is a plus. Though Lamp (6-4, 309) played in Conference USA, he has the traits to step in and play immediately next season. Miami could also be in play for a linebacker, even with Kiko Alonso locked into a new deal. Florida's Jarrad Davis makes some sense." Lamp (pictured) is plausible for Miami, but I'd not bet on it. Defense still likelier for Fins' top pick. By the way, Kiper has Canes tight end David Njoku going 20th overall to Denver. Oh, and still no Brad Kaaya in first round, which by now should go without saying.

Teamusa"LET'S GOOOOO STATES!" TEAM USA WINS FIRST WBC TITLE!: Update U.S. routs Puerto Rico, 8-0, last night to win first WBC crown. Marlin Christian Yelich named to All-Tournament team. Original post: I'll be riveted to MLB Network tonight at 9 as Team USA takes on Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. This is only the fourth WBC, but U.S. has never before won, or even reached the title game. Must be the old magic of curmudgeonly Jim Leyland, who always looks like the should be smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Scotch as he makes a mound visit. With apologies to my Puerto Rican friends, I am not neutral on this game. I set aside my Objective Journalist card in favor of my Citizen's Card. I'm an American rooting for my home team. On my count ... 1 - 2 - 3 ... "Let's gooooo States!"

THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS (70 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and offer a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 34-36 after Sunday's home loss to Portland, here's The Luddite's 14th installment, with 65-game rank in parentheses.

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (70 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      2,056

2. Goran Dragic (2)             1,838

3. James Johnson (3)          1,326

4. Tyler Johnson (4)            1,290

5. Dion Waiters (5)              1,077

6. Wayne Ellington (7)          733 

7. Rodney McGruder (6)       722

8. Josh Richardson (8)         622

9. Willie Reed (9)                601

10. Luke Babbitt (10)          452

Others: Justise Winslow 355, Derrick Williams 234, Josh McRoberts 232, Okaro White 157, Udonis Haslem 72.

LATEST SWEET 16 TITLE ODDS: New from Bovada, betting odds on the last 16 men's teams winning the NCAA Tournament entering today's S16 action:  19-4--Kansas; 5-1--North Carolina; 13-2--Arizona and Gonzaga; 9-1--UCLA; 10-1--Kentucky; 12-1--Florida; 16-1--Baylor and Michigan; 18-1--Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin; 20-1--Purdue; 40-1--Butler; 50-1--South Carolina; and 75-1--Xavier.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / THU 3-23-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. NCAA Tournament, 7 p.m.: Madness resumes with first four round of Sweet 16 men's games.

2. Toronto at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: Miami, 8th seed in hand, tries (again) to climb to .500.

3. Arizona at Panthers, 7:30 p.m.: Cats winding down a very disappointing season.

4. Miami Open tennis, 11 a.m.: Early-round play continues with smattering of seeded players.

5. Marlins vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m.: Spring game in Jupiter.

Select recent columns: Miami Open Is Battered, Not Beaten, the latest, previewing this year's tennis tournament. A Complicated Legacy, on developments in Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on NCAA Tournament. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing World Baseball Classic. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) starring Canes/NCAAs, Fernandez saga, Heat down to 8, viva Team USA!, tennis, Cats, cricket; plus Cote says thanks, Chuck Berry, your Jose verdict, Hot Button Daily & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Chuckberry1) It is MONDAY, March 20. R.I.P., Chuck Berry (pictured in his latter years), the influential rock 'n roll guitar icon, gone over the weekend at age 90. Rest in Peace, Johnny B. Goode. 2) Know any Dolfans? Buy them all our new book on club's first half-century, Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): We name our March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Love & Regret/Jose Fernandez saga with poll, UM men fall in NCAAs & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

'Cote's Coterie' lifts us to final four!: A late surge of support Sunday carried us past Mike Ryan and into the final four of Slice Miami's annual sports media poll. I'm now up against Amber Wilson in the semifinals. Uh oh. Click on Slice Miami Final Four to vote.

My bracket update: Still solid: As the NCAA Tournament pauses and exhales I stand tied for ninth place among some 90 entries in a LeBatard & Friends pool. I have 12 teams still alive in the Sweet 16. Is that pretty good? Or average? Took a hit though with Duke falling. I'd had the Devils reaching the (but not winning) the championship game. By the way, to this point, favorites (based on seeding) are 38-10, a 79.2 percent win rate. Once again, the Cinderella aspect of March Madness appears largely oversold.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES / NCAA TOURNAMENT: Miami makes quick exit from March Madness: An unexpectedly good season ended so badly for Canes men in a very disappointing 78-58 opening loss to Michigan State Friday night in Tulsa. How is your bracket looking as we arrived Sunday at the Sweet 16? Mine is a sieve leaking a torrent of my own tears. (It isn't, really. But it's funnier to say that...)

2. JOSE FERNANDEZ: State says Jose at wheel, caused crash: The story that couldn't possibly get any worse keeps getting worse. The latest: A report confirming Fernandez was at the wheel and to blame for fatal boat crash. Isn't a tragedy worst when you know it should never have happened? (Click on A Complicated Legacy for my column on latest development in saga).

3. HEAT: Can we please start a “We're No. 8!” chant?: Heat fell from 7th to 8th seed with Sunday's home loss to portland -- only the team's sixth loss in past 29 games. Meantime Dwyane Wade is out for the rest of season in Chicago, another reminder Heat seems more and more right to have let Wade go.

4. WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Stanton homers as Team USA wins, makes final four: Americans beat Dominican Republic late Saturday in San Diego, 6-3, led by Marlin Giancarlo Stanton's go-ahead home run. Winner-take-all game eliminated D.R. and lifted U.S. to WBC championship round at Dodger Stadium and a semifinal vs. Japan. Team USA has never won this event. "Can you believe it?" said a clearly annoyed Abner Doubleday. Let's gooooo States!

5. TENNIS: Miami Open begins on Key Biscayne: Andy Murray and especially Serena Williams are among major withdrawals with injuries for the two-week event starting Monday. I feel like Serena is so good she could at least reach the semifinals playing on crutches. Meantime, IMG, which owns the event, assures it will remain on Key Biscayne long-term. That means the Miami Open has won the Miami Open.

6. UM WOMEN: Canes win NCAA opener, carry banner for UM hoops: Miami survived upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast, 62-60, at home Saturday in its NCAA Tournament opener and will now face Quinnipiac Monday night 9, home again. What the Hurricanes men failed to do, the women did: Avoid a one-and-done.

7. PANTHERS: Don't write Cats off yet. Almost. But not yet: Florida is six points off NHL playoff pace with only 11 games left after getting spanked 4-0 Sunday in Pittsburgh. Somewhere between simply needing a lot of luck and needing a miracle rest the Panthers' chances.   

8. BOXING: Mayweather-McGregor penciled in for September: The hype has begun with Conor McGregor saying he's going to "shock the world" and win by boxing against heavily favored Floyd Mayweather in their mixed boxing/UFC bout rumored for September. Am I alone in wishing there were a way they both could lose?

9. NFL FREE AGENCY: Report: Teams awary of Kaepernick because of Trump: An AFC GM said teams are hesitant to sign available QB Colin Kaepernick for fear of a an onslaught of negative Tweets from Donald Trump. And in other free agency news, the Dolphins have done pretty good so far but not quite as good as the Patriots. Or did that go without saying?  

10. CRICKET: India beats Australia, I think: Actual lead of news story I read Sunday morning: "RANCHI, India (AP) -- A 199-run seventh-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha gave India a 152-run lead after they declared their first innings at 603-9 against Australia on Sunday." Anyone who has any idea what any of that means, would you please keep it to yourself?

Missing the HB10 cut: Congrats to our blog's March Madness Haiku Challenge champion, Ken Whiteley of Chattanooga, Tennessee ..... Canes baseball fell to 8-13 Saturday. Sorry to place you below cricket, Jim Morris, but until you start winning, no Top 10 for you! ..... NASCAR runs today in Phoenix. It will be loud. I won't watch. 

Poll result: Shaky support for Marlins honoring Fernandez with uniform patch: We asked if, in light of this week's report putting Jose Fernandez behind the wheel of the fatal boat crash that killed him and two others, it still is appropriate that the Marlins this season to wear a uniform patch honoring Jose. The results: 39.2 percent "Yes. Because of all he meant to Miami and to the Marlins." "No. Not when he caused the tragedy that took two other lives"; and 28.0% "Not sure. I can see both sides." That's a plurality who still favor the patch, but roughly another 60% who are against it or have misgivings. 

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 3-20-17: Events on today's sports calendar that should interest SoFla most:

1. Quinnipiac at Hurricanes, 9:10 p.m.: UM women host 2nd-round game for spot in Sweep 16.

2. Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 9 p.m.: First World Baseball Classic semifinal game from L.A.

3. Miami Open tennis, 10 p.m.: Main draw starts Tuesday, but qualifying matches happening today.

4. Marlins vs. Braves, 1:05 p.m.: Spring game in Lake Buena Vista.

Select recent columns: A Complicated Legacy, the latest, on developments in the Jose Fernandez saga. A Quintillion Reasons to Love the Madness, on the NCAA Tournament. D.R. and Miami Win the Night, from the World Baseball Classic. Time For Team USA To Win This Thing, previewing WBC at Marlins Park. Thank You, Mae Riback, as I (finally) meet my oldest fan. A Ghost Tour of Miami's Sports Past, on our history of defunct teams. A Tradition Ends In Silence, on Doral's first March without a PGA Tour event since 1961. Also: The Wonder of Coach L.  The Miracle of Liberty City.  Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?  Loria: The End Of An Error.  Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

February 20, 2017

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), starring ridiculous ASG, Heat plans, Marlins weirdness, sizzling' Cats, Hurricanes, Dolphins; plus is he whale enough? (my Whiteside column), your verdict on Marlins expectations & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Prezday1) It is MONDAY, February 20. It is the federal holiday Presidents Day, which of course can mean only one thing. That's right. "Not My Presidents Day" anti-Trump protests across America. 2) Our Miami Dolphins book on club's first half-century makes a great gift for any Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins open spring training with expectations poll, Kate Upton revealed, ode to the Monopoly thimble & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Heat, Whiteside: My new Sunday column: We're coming into Pat Riley Season: Trading deadline, then draft, then free agency. So, the question hovering over the Miami Heat at the all-star break: Is Hassan Whiteside "whale" enough for Riley? Good enough to be the centerpiece around which Riley can build another champion? Click on Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs? to read in full.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEBRUARY 19): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: Ridiculous All-Star Games breaks scoring records: The West beat the East 192-182 in NBA's 66th All-Star Game on Sunday night (sans any Heat participants, alas) in New Orleans. That was a record for total points, as was MVP Anthony Davis' ASG-record 52 points. But league's biggest news Sunday was Pelicans acquiring DeMarcus Cousins to pair with Davis in frontcourt. Look out, Warriors?

2. HEAT: And what does Miami have in store post-break?: Heat resume play this coming Friday only two games off playoff pace after winning 14 of last 16 games before the All-Star break. But first, up next: What you got planned for that Feb. 23 (Thursday) trade deadline, Mr. Riley? Anything? Or will you stand Pat?

3. MARLINS: Full spring work underway as sale talk turns weird: Full-squad spring training got underway Friday up in Jupiter as talks to sell the club took a weird turn. I mean, what were the odds that Jeffrey Loria maybe becoming U.S. Ambassador to France might somehow cause the frontrunning buyer to back out?

4. PANTHERS: Sizzling Cats hovering around playoff pace: Florida on Saturday won its fourth straight and seventh of past eight to get on playoff pace but is one point off entering tonight's game in St. Louis. Meanwhile Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,900th career NHL point the day he turned 45. Who else gives middle age a good name like this dude?

5. HURRICANES: Big games in play for UM men, women as regular seasons ebb: Miami's 16th-ranked women's fell at No. 13 Duke on Sunday, now the Canes men play at No. 14 Virginia tonight as last few games of regular season help shape NCAA seeding for both. CBS featured Jim Larranaga Sunday in its "Men Of March" series.

6. UM BASEBALL: Diamond Canes fail to nail down sweep in season-opening series: Jim Morris' guys got clobbered on Sunday but still took two of three from Rutgers in their season-opening home series at the Light. Reaching Omaha the imperative as usual in Morris' next-to-last season.

7. DOLPHINS: Team extends Wake's contract: Cam Wake is 35, but last season proved he ain't done yet, and the Dolphins rewarded him on Saturday with a two-year, $19 million contract extension. Everybody's happy except opposing quarterbacks.

8. NASCAR: Elliott, Dale Jr. on Daytona front row: NASCAR season -- funneling to the title run in Homestead in November -- begins this coming Sunday with the Daytona 500, and qualifying runs yesterday found Chase Elliott winning the pole position and Dale Earnhardt Jr. joining him on the front row.

9. TENNIS: Delray Beach Open tennis gets going: Running through next Sunday, it's a second-tier pro event on the men's ATP tour. Low on starpower, but if watching Jack Sock play is your thing, then go for it.

10. BOATING: Miami International Boat Show ends today: Four-day event's 76th edition has drawn thousands to Miami Marine Stadium. But you know that it's like they say: You are never happier than the day you buy a boat … other than the day you finally unload that money-eating monster you hardly used.

Missing the HB10 cut: Unlike his predecessors, President Donald Trump declined to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket. Like championship teams eager to visit the White House, it seems like another presidential tradition is dying ..... Nine ex-Hurricanes led by Brad Kaaya have been invited to the March 2-5 pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine. Let the meat market begin! ..... UConn women's team won its 100th straight game (streak is now 101), and it's sort of embarrassing. C'mon, women's basketball. A little parity, please? ..... Urgent reminder: the Sailing World Cup is now less than 100 days away ..... Major League Soccer season is almost upon us as David Beckham marks what feels like the 20th anniversary of his protracted, stalling efforts to see a team in Miami.

Poll result: Mild optimism for Marlins to contend, but not to make playoffs: We asked what you realistically expect of the Miami Marlins this season, and a plurality of 37.6 percent voted "mediocre team never really in the hunt. But another 36.1% voted "contending team that just misses playoffs," while 17.3% voted "the playoffs, finally!" The other 9.0% voted for "post-Jose, a bad season." Overall, that's 53.4% who see a contending team vs. 46.6% who do not.

HOT BUTTON DAILY / MON 2-20-17: What events on today's sports calendar should interest SoFla most:

1. Panthers at St. Louis, 8 p.m.: Hot Cats, now one point off playoff pace, seek fifth straight win.

2. Hurricanes at Virginia, 7 p.m.: UM men face ranked foes in three of last four games including No. 14 Cavaliers.

3. Delray Beach Open, 11 a.m.: Second-tier men's ATP event continues.

4. Boat show, 10 a.m.: Miami International Boat Show wraps up at Miami Marine Stadium.

Select recent columns: Is Whiteside the Whale Heat Needs?, my new one, surveying Heat at the all-star break. French Embassy and Cuban Smuggling: Play Ball!, from the start of Marlins spring training. Also: Loria: The End Of An Error, on team's reported possible sale. Spoelstra Leads the Parade, on the man at the wheel of recent long win streak. Give the Devils Their Due, on Belichick and Brady. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 30, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): Starring scorchin' Heat, Pegasus, Aussie finals, UM hoops, marathon, Super Bowl Week; plus Falcons vs. Patriots polls (vote now!) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 30. A new Miami Herald Facebook page debuted last week. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century (and it includes a lot of vintage stuff from the late great Edwin Pope) makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Breaking down Hurricanes 2017 football schedule, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, latest 'Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Select recent columns: Greatness Times Four, my latest, on Lebron, Brady, Serena and Tiger. Miami In the Super Bowl, on the Miami-tie guys playing in this one. Home Run For Montoya, Miami, from the Race of Champions held here. Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Also: Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great? When Playoffs Become the Norm Again. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile. An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami wins 7th straight while D-Wade, LeBron complain about their teams: Miami will bring a season-best seven-game win streak into tonight's home game vs. Brooklyn while prominent ex-Heaters  Dwyane Wade and LeBron James complain publicly about their teams. The bad news? Even with seven wins in a row the Heat is now 18-30.

2. HORSE RACING: Arrogate dominant in first Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream: Horse racing is dying? Not Saturday it wasn't! The inaugural Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park was richest thoroughbred event ever in a 12-horse field running for a $12 million purse -- a race that Arrogate dominated in a ballyhooed showdown vs. rival California Chrome.

3. TENNIS: Serena, Federer win Australian Open finales: Sisters Serena and Venus Williams met for the 28th time and ninth in a major final on Saturday, with Serena earning a modern-record 23rd major title. Top that, guys? OK, how about Roger Federer, 35, beating Rafael Nadal as the oldest man in a Grand Slam final since 1974.

4. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men stun No.9 North Carolina: UM may be headed into the Top 25 at 14-6 after Saturday beating ninth-ranked North Carolina here, 77-62. Was it a fluke or are Canes really good? May have that answer Wednesday as UM hosts No. 6 Florida State. 

5. NFL: It's Super Bowl Week as countdown to Falcons-Patriots begins: We are now six days until New England vs. Atlanta on Super Bowl Sunday. But first let's start with the real big game and undertake a detailed analytical breakdown of yesterday's Pro Bowl in Orlando. Just kiddin'!

6. RUNNING: Miami Marathon celebrates 15th year: Some 24,000 ran in weekend events culminating with Sunday's annual Miami Marathon. I'd give you the winners' names but neither one of us has heard of them so what' the point? I intended to run the marathon, but decided to sleep in and then eat a pound of bacon instead.

7. PANTHERS: Cats end four-game losing streak: Florida's 2-1 OT win over Tampa Bay ended a four-game slide and moved Florida within three points of NHL playoff pace through 50 games.  Disappointing season so far, but maybe it won't stay that way?

8. BRENT MUSBURGER: Sports broadcasting icon retiring: Musburger will call his final game for ESPN -- LSU-Oklahoma basketball -- on Tuesday before retiring at age 77 after nearly 50 years in broadcasting. As another sports-TV great fades to black.

9. SOCCER: U.S. men start new era with friendly tie: U.S. hosted Serbia in a Sunday friendly in San Diego that ended a 0-0 draw in marking the debut of new coach Bruce Arena. The word for tying Serbia? Meh.

10. NHL: It's All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles: Do you care? Yeah, me neither. Although it probably was still better than the Pro Bowl.

Missing the HB10 cut: Four Hurricanes played in Saturday's Senior Bowl and two Dolphins are in today's Pro Bowl, and I just cannot decide which game interests me least ..... There is talk of a Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight. Christ! Do it or shut up about it! ..... In WWE, Sunday's Royal Rumble begins the annual road to WrestleMania. I can't wait to find out who they've decided is going to win! ..... The Winter X Games are underway in Aspen, or, as I like to call it, Slackers on Snowboards ..... ESPN's latest 30 For 30 documentary is titled, "This Was the XFL," certifying once and for all that ESPN has apparently run out of good idea.

Sb51FALCONS-PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL: WHO YOU WANT TO WIN, AND WHO WILL WIN: We see things through different prisms, right? I am surrounded by Dolfans who tend to hate Tom Brady and call the nemesis New England Patriots cheaters, so I am inclined to think that, outside of Greater Boston and suburbs, all of America is rooting for the Atlanta Falcons to win next week's Super Bowl. Or, as much, rooting against Darth Belichick and the Pats. But is that right? I have two polls here. One asks who you want to win the Super Bowl. Vote with your heart. The other asks who you predict will win SB 51. Vote with your head, as if you to bet on one team, straight-up.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 23, 2017

The latest Hot Button Top 10: Show us the way, Edwin Pope, Falcons-Patriots SB, Women's March, Juan Pablo Montoya & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 23. There is a new Miami Herald Facebook page, debuting today. Click HERE to visit. 2) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century -- and it includes a lot of vintage Edwin Pope -- makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it-isn't-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Remembering Edwin Pope, NFL Championship Game picks, Heat/Whiteside battered in all-star voting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's a Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl!: Click on Championship Game Gems for yesterday's Packers-Falcons and Steelers-Patriots NFC and AFC title-game picks, and on A Dramatic Final Four for my preview column.

Montoya wins historic Miami Race Of Champions: Historic? The 28th annual ROC had never before been held in the U.S. before Saturday's race in Miami, on a racetrack built inside Marlins Park. And Miami driver Juan Pablo Montoya won. Crazy, one-of-a kind day. Click on Home Run For Montoya, Miami for my column from the race.

The Death of a Wordsmith, other select recent columns: Thank You, Edwin Pope, on the death of a friend, mentor and Miami Herald icon. Is Tannehill Close Enough to Great?, on NFL's final four from a Miami vantage. When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. EDWIN POPE: Herald sports icon dies at 88: If you are from South Florida, are aware life existed before ESPN SportsCenter or have ever held a newspaper in your hands, then you probably said or thought last week, “I grew up reading Edwin Pope.” Thank you, kind sir, friend, colleague and mentor. R.I.P. 

2. NFL: Championship Sunday gives us a Falcons-Pats Super Bowl: Atlanta walloped Green Bay and New England dispatched Pittsburgh on Sunday for the NFC and AFC titles to reach Super Bowl 51 Feb. 5 in Houston. The blowout games were decided by 23- and 19-point margins. The challenge? For the Super Bowl to be better. You know, an actual good game?

3. WOMEN'S MARCH: Women lead world's biggest protest march. Ever: Estimates are more than 4 million women worldwide including more than 500,000 in Washington, D.C. marched Saturday to protest Donald Trump and stand up for the freedoms and rights. Hmm. Impressive. But can't help but wonder: If that same passion and numbers had participated in the election, would there have been a need to march?

4. MOTORSPORTS: Montoya wins Race of Champions at Marlins Park: Most different, unique sporting event in Miami history? You could do worse than nominating NASCAR, IndyCar and Formula One stars racing against each other inside a baseball stadium this weekend in the ROC series' first U.S. appearance. Miami won twice as hometown driver Juan Pablo Montoya won Saturday's main event.

5. HEAT: Three straight wins in a lost season as trade deadline looms: Good news? Miami has its first three-game win streak of season. Bad news? Everything else. Record is still only 14-30 and streak is unlikely to reach four as Heat host Golden State tonight. Be honest. The most compelling things left in this lost season are the two dates for the trade deadline and draft lottery.

6. MARLINS: Fish acquire quality starting pitcher: The latest aftershock of the Jose Fernandez tragedy: Miami dealt three prospects to Cincinnati for righty starter Dan Straily, who was 14-8 in 31 starts for Reds last year.

7. BASEBALL: Two ex-Marlins elected to Hall of Fame: Pudge Rodriguez, of course, had a starring role in helping Marlins win the 2003 World Series. But count yourself a real Fish fan if you also recall that, the year before, Tim Raines ended his 23-year career as a reserve here.

8. TENNIS: Both No. 1 seeds out as Australian Open enters final week: No. 1 seeds Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber both were ousted the same day, the first time in the modern era the Australian Open has lost both No. 1s before the quarterfinals. An even bigger shock: Why wasn't Serena Williams No. 1?

9. PANTHERS: Three straight losses, but Florida still in playoff hunt: As NHL all-star break looms, Cats have cooled off with three straight losses but lurk only two points off playoff in Eastern Conference. Still, when you were talking Stanley Cup and are scrambling for an eighth seed -- that's a disappointing season.

10. UM BASKETBALL: Tough stretch for Canes men, women: Miami's No. 14-ranked women have lost three of past six. The men have dropped four of past five  after Saturday's loss at Duke. Better snap out of it fast, Team Larranaga. No. 9 North Carolina visits in five days.

Missing the HB10 cut: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich devoted seven minutes of a news conference Saturday to a pro-women's march, anti-Donald Trump soliloquy, pretty brave for a man who lives and works in Texas. It's enough to make me root for a Spurs championship just to see if he gets a White House invite, or goes ..... Former Marlins ace Josh Johnson retired at 32 from elbow issues, surprising analysts who thought he'd retired years ago ..... Prior to Bellator 170, Chael Sonnen talked trash. Tito Ortiz made his statement in the fight ..... A 25-year-old dunce from Boston was arrested for pulling a fire alarm in the Steelers hotel at 3 a.m. Put him in a room alone with James Harrison for 20 minutes ..... Saw the headline, 'Beagle scores in OT as Capitals beat Stars,' and thought, "Wow, what a great story!" But it turned out to be a guy named Jay Beagle ..... Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: "Florida Panthers owner and Trump nominee for Secretary of the Army Vinnie Viola once was accused of punching a man in the face at a horse auction."

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 11, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.2%; plus Dolphins lose 30-17, now 1-4. My game column; also, Canes dismiss WR, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), quantifying Fins ground-game woes & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 10. Hurricanes today dismissed freshman WR Sam Bruce from the team for multiple rules violations. 2) Click on Week 5 Gems for all of yesterday's (and tonight's) NFL predix. 3) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available -- just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 to learn more or to order through Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami loses heartbreaker to FSU with CSM poll, Collball Week 6, your World Series verdict with related List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

"Clearly, Donald Trump won last night's town-hall debate if the criteria were impoliteness, rudeness, insults, disrespect and interrupting." --Greg Cote

Our Dolphins-Titans game column: Boo Tannehill? Entire Dolphins team, starting with defense, deserves derision for this performance.

Our Canes-Noles game column: Close to Back, But Not Back. Also, see results of latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll in blogpost directly below this one. 

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 3.2%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 3.2 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 30-17 loss vs. the visiting Tennessee Titans putting DsmMiami's season record at 1-4. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

Next poll: Oct. 16 (following game vs. Pittsburgh)

G5: TENNESSEE 30, DOLPHINS 17: TERRIBLE SHOWING BY AWFUL FINS: Postgame thoughts:  Awfulness all over the field for Miami, the final score flattering the home team's effort, or lack of. The offense was mostly terrible. The defense was worse. Jakeem Grant, for his punt-return TD, and the punter, were the team's MVPs. The Fins gave up three TD passes by Marcus TenmiaMariota. The run defense was some of the worst I have ever seen. The offensive line could not protect Tannehill, who also held onto the ball too long. Terrible day by Dolphins, who now are 1-4 and should be 0-5. Click HERE for my column from the stadium on today's loss. ..... 4Q: TEN up 30-17 (blocked extra point) after Mariota 4-yard TD toss to ex-Dolphin Rishard Matthews. Fins headed to embarrassing home loss, barring a comeback that doesn't seem likely ..... 3Q: Tannehill 50-yard pass to Parker gives Miami first down at TEN 11, but Fins settle for 24-yard FG to move within 24-17 ... Miami turnover turned into three points and a 24-14 TEN lead on 40-yard FG ... Tannehill intercepted. Not a great throw, but Devante Parker needs to show a better fight for that ball ..... Halftime thoughts: Sad, sad. Dolphins playing even worse than score suggests. With one TD on a punt return and the other set up by a screen pass that turned into a 58-yard gain, Miami has had very little offense. And the defense has been horrid. Miami has allowed 166 yards rushing and a 7.2 average, and allowed a 121.7 passer rating and two TDs by Mariota. Fins in some ways lucky to be within one score. Scattered booing escorts Fins from field ..... 2Q: Titans up 21-14 on 20-yard TD pass to Delanie Walker, 47 seconds before halftime. ... MIA evens it 14-14 on Jay Ajayi 4-yard scoring run. Credit though to Damien Williams, who turned a screen pass into a 58-yard gain ... TEN back up 14-7 on 5-yard scoring catch by Old Cane Andre Johnson, who beat Byron Maxwell in end zone ... Rookie Jakeem Grant returns punt an electrifying 74 yards along right sideline to tie game, 7-7. Weaved thiourgh four missed tackles. What a play! Highlight reel/SportsCenter stuff. Dolphins needed the wakeup call ..... 1Q: Marcus Mariota 5-yard TD run has Titans up 7-0 with 23 seconds left in quarter, the big play a 29-yard strike to Delanie Walker. I told y'all (see below) that they'd better watch out for Walker! ... Fins open with punt, too. Tannehill already sacked, under duress ... Titans begin game with ball but punt ..... Pregame: Very sparse crowd 30 minutes from kickoff. What a contrast from last night's electric, sold-out UM-FSU crowd ... Fins announce O-linemen Branden Albert and Laremy Tunsil both will be out injured, two of seven starters missing today's game. Tunsil hurt his ankle in pregame warmups. No, he did not trip over a bong ..... Original post: In an ideal universe, a home game against the Tennessee Titans would be a check-marked Dolphins victory, one you don't doubt, just like a home game against the Cleveland Browns would be. But in the Dolphins universe we have come to live in, every game is losable, no opponent may be taken lightly, and that's why Sunday afternoon at The Rock figures as pretty even between this pair of slogging 1-3 teams. That Miami is favored by a nominal 3 1/2 points verifies as much. As South Florida prepared for Hurricane Matthew this week the Dolphins prepared to open a four-game homestand it must use to save a flagging season. Fins need to come out of this at least 4-4 at midseason to give themselves a fighting playoff chance -- and today had better be a victory you can count on. Dolphins have not put a very good "product on the field," in coach Adam Gase's words this week, and, frankly, should be 0-4 but for the stunning charity of the Browns' inept field goal kicker. And Tennessee isn't terrible, by the way. Their three losses are to teams that currently are a combined 10-2. Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota both have five interceptions, so it's pretty likely whichever mistake-prone QB plays the cleanest game may walk off a winner. Mariota has been solid away in his young career, with 12 TDs and a 98.5 rating in eight career road starts. Miami must also beware Delanie Walker. Tight ends give this D problems, and Walker is a good one. Further, Titans run the ball solidly, and stopping the run has not been a Dolphins strength despite a defensive line that, on paper, seems suited to the task. Miami has had extra time to prepare after playing last Thursday night, only increasing the onus today on Gase to show fans a sharper "product on the field." Word to Gase: Check out The List at end of this blogpost. Then commit to the damned run! My pick: Dolphins, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM falls to nemesis Florida State on block extra point: No. 10 Miami hosted No. 23 FSU Saturday night hoping to end a six-game series losing streak, but fell 20-19 when a tying extra-point kick was blocked in the closing minutes. The now 4-1 Canes wanted to move a step closer to being "back," but took a step back instead.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose badly to open critical four-game homestand: Miami is now 1-4 after Sunday's 30-17 loss to Tennessee, the first of four straight at home that will give life to this flagging season or effectively see it die. Bad start. Score flattered the Fins, who were equally bad on offense and defense. Last word to Adam Gase: "We can't get out of our own way right now."

3. PANTHERS: Huberdeau injury rocks Cats 3 days from opener: Fake games are done, now NHL regular season opens Thursday night as Florida hosts New Jersey. The Panthers, fortified by an offseason of signing young, core players to extended contracts, are hopeful but now have lost LW Jonathan Huberdeau to a severe ankle/Achilles injury after earlier losing C Nick Bjugstad (broken hand) for first month of season. Rocky start for those high hopes.

4. BASEBALL: Miami still mourns, but sport moves on with postseason: Marlins fans still reel from the recent tragic death of Jose Fernandez, but for baseball the playoffs are in full swing with the Toronto Blue Jays the first to advance from the four divisional round series. The big story nationally: Cubs up 2 games to none, their fans aching to party like it's 1908 but fearing disappointment yet again.

5. HEAT: Post-Wade/post-Bosh era gradually underway: New-era Heat host Brooklyn Tuesday in third of eight preseason games as the Oct. 26 start of NBA regular season drew nearer. The Big 3 era came together so quickly; alas, with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh now both gone, too, it has seemed to disintegrate nearly as fast.

6. HURRICANE MATTHEW: Weather wreaks havoc in sports: Matthew pretty much left Miami-Dade and Broward alone (thanks, Matt), but caused havoc elsewhere in Florida sports, including cancellation of Saturday's highly anticipated LSU-Florida game in Gainesville, and the postponement, to Sunday, of FAU's home game vs. Charlotte.

7. TOM BRADY: Star's return from suspension tops NFL headlines: Angry and motivated by what he considered to be an unjustified four-game Deflategate suspension, Patriots QB Tom Brady returned to action Sunday in Cleveland with 406 yards and three TDs in a win. As if the winless Browns didn't have enough problems?

8.TIGER WOODS: Finally, after more than a year, he's baa-aack!: Tiger Woods committed to play in the PGA Tour's 2016-17 season opener, the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif., beginning this Thursday. After battling back issues and other ailments, it will be Woods' first official Tour round in more than a year -- 417 days to be exact, but who's counting.

9. MARIA SHARAPOVA: Suspension reduced, star will return in spring: An appeals court reduced Sharapova's two-year doping suspension to 15 months, making her eligible to return to WTA Tour in April. That's good news for women's tennis. But is the Russian blond, at 29, still good enough to win her first major since 2014?

10. WNBA: Minnesota, Los Angeles seek 20th league crown: WNBA's 20th best-of-five championship Finals begins Sunday with Minnesota Lynx hosting -- and losing to -- the Los Angeles Sparks. Defending champ Lynx have won three of past titles, while Sparks seek first since 2002. Thank you, Wikipedia!

Missing the HB10 cut: Famed broadcaster Joe Buck has revealed he once was addicted to hair plugs. "What's wrong with that!?" said a spokesman for the American Association of Hair-Plug Manufacturers ..... Barry Bonds, fired as Marlins hitting coach after one season, thanked the club for what he called "one of the most rewarding experiences of my baseball career." Which I think officially lowers the bar on rewarding experiences ..... Dwyane Wade said it is "not possible" for his pal LeBron James to surpass Michael Jordan's legacy, only to tie it. Which I guess almost passes as controversy, if you're that desperate ..... Blue Jays fan Ken Pagan, 41, was cited for throwing a beer at Orioles outfielder Hyun Soo Kim during a playoff game. The official charge? Felonious waste of a perfectly good beer ..... Answer: NASCAR is down to its 12 finalists for the Sprint Cup championship. Question: Who are the only 12 people in America eager to visit Homestead, Fla? ..... Headline: 'Bisping denies Henderson to retain UFC title.' Note to self: Google who the hell "Bisping" is ..... A poll by Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of those surveyed thought the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes could beat the winless Cleveland Browns. An unrelated poll found that 62 percent of people are idiots ..... Miami Hurricanes men's basketball season opens in a month, on Nov. 11. Canes lost a ton and aren' supposed to be very good. Season starts in a month, anyway.

THE LIST: LOWEST DOLPHINS RUSHING OUTPUTS: Could this be the lowest-output Dolphins ground game in franchise history? It is on pace to be. Miami is averaging 72.4 yards rushing per game (362 yards in five games, through Sunday) fives games into this season. How that compares with the five lowest per-game rushing yardage averages in the Dolphins' first 50 seasons:

Avg.        Season        Leading rusher

72.40      2016           Jay Ajayi, 117 (through five games)

75.31      1988           Lorenzo Hampton, 414

83.13      1989           Sammie Smith, 659

83.69      2004           Sammy Morris, 523

83.94      1997           Karim Abdul-Jabbar, 892

84.50      1991           Mark Higgs, 905

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote